Befriender Lizzie is no stranger to HCA news having been featured last year with her befriendee Eileen. The Befriending Programme matches a local volunteer with an isolated person to spend time together on a weekly basis. Since lockdown began for Lizzie and Eileen to meet up like they usually would was not an option but that didn’t mean the friendship couldn’t continue.
“It’s quite sad really when you can’t meet up with your friends. Eileen didn’t go out a lot before this, even still it has been a stressful time for her as there is quite rightly a fear about catching COVID. I looked to support her more and fortunately with Eileen, she’s internet savvy and knows how to use WhatsApp. We did what we would normally do when we met up but this time the video was on!
I feel it has been more important to connect with people in my community who may be isolated and a couple of weeks into lockdown I asked if I could have another telephone befriendee. It’s funny having a new friend that you haven’t seen what they look like but my new befriendee was keen to talk and we got on well.
I’ve also been picking up Eileen’s prescriptions as the chemists wouldn’t deliver to her home, this gives me the opportunity to have a socially distant chat as well. For my other befriendee she doesn’t live that close but when lockdown started to ease a bit I dropped some things off for her which was nice to put a face to the name!
Looking at the benefits of lockdown it’s been nice to see how people have tried to help each other. It’s given people an opportunity to be kind. I’ve enjoyed hanging out with the family and shopping at the local shops, building on my network and feeling embedded where I live.
Another plus with volunteering is I have two new friends that I wouldn’t have before. Certainly, with Eileen it’s grown into a two-way relationship, it doesn’t feel like volunteering, we are friends.”